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Victor J France

Military

Victor France was from Dallas, Texas, and he appropriately named his P-47 and later his
P-51 "Miss Dallas". Vic came from No. 71 Eagle Squadron, and on 7 August 1942 was transferred into the 4th Fighter Group, 334th Squadron when the U.S. group became operational. He served aggressively, chalking up victories, and with his leadership abilities soon became "C" Flight Commanding Officer on 21 March 1944.
Vic was impressive looking, with his six foot height and wide shoulders surmounting a narrow waist and athletic chest. These features were enhanced by his custom-tailored British uniform, the jacket lined in crimson silk. His trousers were tailored slim and just short enough to show a glimpse of his highly-polished, high-heeled, narrow-toed Texas cowboy boots. He walked with a slow amble, and when he entered a room every female eye was immediately drawn to him. He was well known by the girls from the famed Windmill Theatre, who were his favourite escorts whenever he was in London.
As he climbed into his cockpit, his impressive good looks were enhanced by a polka dot scarf tied Ascot style around his neck. To complete the image he was a splendid pilot. Strafing on the deck was no stranger to his tactics. On one occasion, he flew so low while strafing a locomotive that as it blew up, the bottom of his P-51 was covered with soot, and a German newspaper was subsequently retrieved from his air scoop.
Unfortunately, all his charm and skill were unable to prevent his death in combat as he doggedly pursued a German fighter trying to destroy a lone, stricken B-17. It was on 18 April 1944, and the Group's escort duty was finished. Fuel and ammunition were running low, so Group Commander Blakeslee ordered the group to return to base. Vic could not leave the injured bomber free to be attacked, so, followed by his wingman, he dove into the pack of enemy fighters, dispersing them and shooting one that had attacked his wingman, driving him off. However, one German pilot persisted, returning to attack the B-17 again, causing Vic to announce over the radio, "The rest of you guys go home, I'm gonna get that bastard."
When Vic attacked, the Me-109 did a split-s, manoeuvre, with Vic on his tail in a vertical dive. Vic was scoring hits as the two planes were nearing compressibility. Unable to pull out of the dive, Vic hit the ground in a ball of flames, his plane disintegrating over a wide area.
Vic had 8.66 enemy aircraft destroyed to his credit. He had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart. He had flown combat in Spitfires, Thunderbolts and Mustangs.
Years later. it was discovered that Victor had met and become enamoured of a young woman piolt who was ferrying P-51s to the 4th Fighter Group. When he died, Victor could not have known that he had fathered a child, a girl. Unfortunately, her mother also died when her daughter was only months old, and the infant child was raised by her grandmother, who kept her father's identity a secret. Upon the grandmother's death the young woman, Kathleen, discovered her father's identity while going through her grandmother's belongings. She wrote to Vic's former Commanding Officer, Col. Don Blakeslee, asking for information about her father. Blakeslee, in turn, contacted Don Allen, Vic's crew chief and asked him to follow up on her request. Allen was able to send her several pictures and to give her much insight into her father's life as a fighter pilot.
Don was astounded when her subsequent letters revealed that, although neither her father nor mother (both P-51 pilots) could have know, Kathleen was also a pilot - she flew P-51 as an attraction at air show. What a family coincidence!

In Memoriam

'Capt Victor France was an Eagle Squadron pilot, RAF; transferred into 4th Fighter Group, Aug 1942. Credited with 10 aerial victories in combat. Died in combat April 18, 1944. I was his Crew Chief, SSgt Donald E Allen.'
Remembered by Donald E Allen, Rocky River, OH.

Service

People

  • Donald Allen

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Crew Chief
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. S/Sgt Allen was a talented artist, who was kept busy with nose art requests from pilots of the 334th Fighter Squadron. Awards: AM, WWII Victory, EAME (6 Battle stars), Good Conduct Medal.

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Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 334th Fighter Squadron

    334th Fighter Squadron

    Squadron
    The 334th Fighter Squadron was the successor to No. 71 Eagle squadron of the Royal Air Force when the 4th Fighter Group was activated on 12 September 1942. They were based at Debden Field, Essex. The "Fighting Eagles" as they were called, flew...

  • No. 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    No. 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    Squadron
    'On 19 September 1940, No. 71 was reformed at Church Fenton as the first 'Eagle' Squadron to be manned by American personnel. The Squadron received Hurricanes in November and became operational on defensive duties on 5 February 1941. No. 71 converted...

Aircraft

  • 43-6832 'Miss Dallas'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. This was the fourth (of four) aircraft to be flown and named by Victor France, who hailed from Dallas, Texas. Capt France perished in this aircraft on 18 April 1944 when he struck the ground near Stendal whilst he was...

  • AD196 'Miss North Dallas'

    Spitfire
    Supermarine Spitfire AD196,Mk Vb, Built at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. ...

  • 42-7876 'Miss DALLAS'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    One-time personal aircraft of Captain Victor J. France in 1943. This was the second P-47 assigned to (then) 1st Lt. Victor France, and the third (of four) aircraft to be named by him.

  • 41-6414 Miss DALLAS

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    This was the second (of four) aircraft that was named by its pilot, Victor France, who hailed from Dallas, Texas. 41-6414 was lost when Lt Col. Chesley Peterson baled out of it over the English Channel on 15 April 1943.

  • EN915

    Spitfire
    Spitfire Mk Vb EN915 was built at the Vickers-Armstrong aircraft factory, Castle Bromwich, and delivered to the RAF at 37 Maintenance Unit, Burtonwood, on 17 May 1942. It was issued to 154 Squadron at Hornchurch on 12 June 1942. During its time with...

  • BL437

    Spitfire
    Supermarine Spitfire BL437 Mk Vb, Built at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. ...

  • 42-7863

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47D Thunderbolt 42-7863 assigned 335th FS, 4th FG, 8th AF. Don Blakeslee's assigned A/C. ...

Associated Place

  • Debden

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Debden, construction of which began in 1935, is perhaps most famous as a Battle of Britain fighter airfield, partly responsible for the defence of London in 1940. In 1942 it was also home to three RAF 'Eagle Squadrons’ of volunteer American pilots...

  • Kirton-in-Lindsey

    Military site : airfield
    Used as an RFC and RAF Home Defence landing ground during the First World War, Kirton-in-Lindsey was built during 1938-40 as an RAF fighter station. It had two grass runways, 10 hardstandings, three grouped C hangars and four over-blister hangars....

  • Martlesham Heath

    Military site : airfield
    Opened in 1917 as home to the RFC Aeroplane Experimental Unit, Martlesham Heath became well known during the 1920s-30s as home to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment. Used as an RAF fighter station from 1939, with only a grass airfield...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Dallas, Texas, USA
Killed in Action (KIA) Stendahl, Germany 18 April 1944

Died in combat as he doggedly pursued a German fighter trying to destroy a lone, stricken B-17.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
29 August 2017 01:59:42 fugari Changes to nickname, role and awards
Sources

JCook Archives

Date Contributor Update
25 February 2016 13:39:10 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations and place associations
Sources

Association of individual Eagle squadron.

Date Contributor Update
05 October 2015 22:39:52 Al_Skiff Changes to role, events, unit associations and place associations
Sources

AAM DB Entry.

Date Contributor Update
06 March 2015 09:06:50 apollo11 Changes to highest rank, biography, awards, events, unit associations and place associations
Sources

Personal research & 'Eighty-One Aces of the 4th Fighter Group' by Frank Speer.

Date Contributor Update
05 November 2014 15:44:14 Emily Changes to memoriam and person associations
Sources

Donald E Allen, via American Air Museum Memory Book Correspondance

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:26:28 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 5012 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

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